It is a “humbled’’ Rummel football team that faces Jesuit at 7 p.m. Friday at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium.
The Raiders are smarting from a 25-24 double-overtime loss to Holy Cross that was the Tigers’ first victory in 22 years in a series dominated by Rummel.
Jesuit coach Mark Songy is more concerned that his Blue Jays, themselves reeling from three consecutive Catholic League losses, are likely to be facing an “ornery’’ band of Raiders.
“I’m sure they’re coming off of last week pretty upset," Songy said. “Now Rummel is going to be a little more ornery. I know the fact they’re playing Jesuit, I know they get excited about that."
Rummel, (4-1 overall, 1-1 District 9-5A), still enters the game highly ranked, at No. 7 in the state in Class 5A and No. 5 in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10 for local large school teams. The Raiders dropped three places in both rankings.
“I feel like our players are ready to rebound,’’ Rummel coach Jay Roth said. “Jesuit-Rummel has always been a big game. This team still has the potential to win the Catholic League. I thought that before the Holy Cross game. I still think it.
“I still think we’re going to make a run. We still have the potential to win this district. It’s still a loooong season left with four more games, and anything can happen in this league.’’
Jesuit (1-5, 0-3) has lost three straight to the Catholic League’s remaining unbeaten teams: John Curtis (5-1, 2-0), Holy Cross (4-2, 3-0) and St. Augustine (5-1, 3-0).
For a second consecutive week the Blue Jays stumbled out of the gate and found themselves in too deep of a hole for extraction in a 56-28 defeat against Curtis. Jesuit senior Alex Watermeier passed for 326 yards and three second-half touchdowns.
“We’ve got to show up in the first half,’’ Songy said. “Because if we don’t, we’re going to be looking at a hole that’s almost too big to get out of. We need to put the last two second halves together. If we can take the second half of the Holy Cross game and the second half of the Curtis game and put them together, I think we might have a shot.’’
Rummel has won the past four meetings in the series, including regular-season and playoff victories in each of the past two seasons, to increase its series advantage to 32-23.
The teams actually have played twice in each of the past three seasons, with the Blue Jays recording their most recent victory of the series that dates to 1966 with a 28-14 decision in the 2014 Division I semifinals. Jesuit defeated Curtis 17-14 one week later for its first state championship since 1960.
Rummel, conversely, is coming off a second half it would like to forget in which the Raiders squandered a 14-0 halftime advantage.
The Raiders surrendered a 96-yard scoring drive to Holy Cross in the third period that ended with a fourth-down 39-yard scoring pass that was ruled a touchdown catch rather than an end zone interception by defensive back Corey Smooth.
The touchdown ruling followed a lengthy deliberation by game officials debating dual possession between Smooth and Holy Cross wide receiver Kym Wimberly Jr.
Rummel’s headaches were compounded when a blocked punt late in the fourth quarter led to a tying touchdown run that forced overtime and eventually snapped the Raiders' long series winning streak.
“It was a very humbling experience . . . any time you lose,’’ Roth said. “My hat's off to Holy Cross. They deserved to win. They played harder in the end. We sat there and we took it like a man, and we’re going to try to bounce back this week against Jesuit. Hopefully, it will be some motivation for us to improve certain parts of our game.’’
The most glaring problem was offense, where the high-powered Raiders managed just 11 second-half yards and 224 total after scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions.
Junior quarterback Chandler Fields completed just 9 of 29 passes for 84 yards and was intercepted for the first time this season after those opening possessions to spoil a 184-yard, two-touchdown effort that included a pair of scoring passes to Florida committed wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Two subsequent first-half advances into Holy Cross territory produced zero points, including the Raiders’ first trip into the red zone this season without scoring.
“In the first quarter alone, we had like six first downs and 140 yards passing. Then things just didn’t go our way,’’ Roth said. ““The tide turned. On offense we couldn’t recover. You’re thinking in the first quarter, one more touchdown and we might run them out of the stadium.
“The way our defense was playing, I thought one more score would have been enough to carry us for the rest of the game. So we had more than ample opportunities. We had opportunities to put an end to it early, and we didn’t. We left the door open.’’